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Manhattan’s Electric Kool-Aid Penthouse Test

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Tom Wolfe’s “Bonfire of the Vanities [2]” gave me the phrase “master of the universe” which I can liberally use when (respectfully) describing the penthouse apartment demographic, but his earlier book cover [3] better matched the chart colors – hence the title.

But I digress…

I got a call by a reporter who thought there was an uptick in Manhattan penthouse sales. So I looked at the market from January 2012 by month for frequency and price trends. Penthouse sales represent a very specific and small market niche with a huge disparity in characteristics.

I found 329 penthouse sales out of a pool of 14,612 sales over the past 14 months. I tagged any sale with a “PH or some abbreviation of the word “penthouse” in the label. Yes there are penthouses that aren’t necessarily tagged as such, but that occurance would be random and not likely a factor. That’s a 2.3% market share for penthouse sales which seems to correlate to the housing stock i.e. 100 unit building with 2 penthouses.

Although a 2.3% market share seems a tad high to me, no real trend or pattern emerged. I did observe that the average sales price of a Manhattan penthouse was $4,249,323 since early 2012 or 3.1x higher than the overall average sales price of $1,354,766 in 1Q 2013.

I can’t let a bunch of research time go to waste so I whipped up a chart that shows…nothing.

Conclusion: No uptick. (ie No Kool-aid.)